>Travel Pictures


Kerala - Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi - Kathakali dance - Backwaters - Alleppey - Ferry Ride - Varkala - Kovalam - Fishermen - Trivandrum

We headed into Kerala for our spring break, little realizing that we were heading into God's Own Country. Our first stop in His land was the town of Cochin, where we zipped over to the old part, called Fort Kochi.
The town was the site of the first European colonial settlement in India, established when the Portuguese showed up in 1503, so the area has a very distinct foreign influenced feel. 

As people who groove on history, Dave and Susan were pretty impressed to be staying right next door to the St. Francis church - the oldest European church in India and place that Vasco de Gama was originally buried in (above and top right). The kids were pretty impressed to see the big overhead swinging fans that are used in buildings without air conditioning (right)!!

Fort Kochi is still primarily Christian and Muslim to this day, because of the successive waves of traders and invaders who passed through the port (there's even a still-operational synagogue here), but there are still poignant reminders of the Hindu kingdoms that predated them all.

Looks like Dave's going to burn for blasphemy...

In the city's museum, bright murals adorn the walls, replete with gods frolicking with nymphs. (It looks like having 8 arms can certainly make for an interesting afternoon!!)

We got up close and personal with local wildlife as this eagle kept a close watch on us whenever we stopped to get a cold drink.

As an ancient center of the spice trade, spices and the special holders for them are a constant up and down the alleyways. Susan bought one similar to these but without the top as a display piece.

Having caught an eyeful (and more) of the gods and goddesses, we headed out to the interestingly named shopping district called "Jewtown." Just down the street from the synagogue (imagine that), the twisting roads and winding back alleys hold an amazing array of places to spend your money on all sorts of colorful items, like the elephant bells above that we've found all over India, as well as on some Kerala specialties such as colorful cow heads.

We bought two of these dolls in Rajasthan, but they are available in Kerala too!

Love the masks from different Hindu myths. I'm just not sure if I want the grimacing face with skulls around it hanging in my room as the first thing I see every morning!!

We did sped quite a bit of time poking around some of these old shops and ended up buying a few solid wood pieces. As we were at the very start of our trip, we didn't want to be stuck carrying a bunch of stuff around, but if I were to do Kerala again, I would plan to end in Kochi and do some serious shopping there. 
I suppose in some ways it was lucky for us that we couldn't do too much - even though Breck did have a blast with the musical instruments, some of his taste in carved wooden clothing left me a bit confused...

Situated along the shoreline, these huge nets dip into the water at high tide for the fish that swim up close.
Some fishermen prefer to do their fishing in an even lower-tech manner...

And the crabs love all the food! These were washed up under one of the fishing nets.

The successful nettings are sometimes good sized - this barracuda might make a tasty meal.

But the big draws in Fort Kochi are the Chinese fishing nets. 

Throwing their net in from the shore!

Weighted by enormous stones, the (empty nets) are easy enough for tourist families to play with and lift out of the water.

We were a true fishing family!!

One of the most interesting sights was that of water buffalo swimming in the salt water and eating the seaweed that grew close to the banks.

Most of the catch is usually of the distinctly smaller sized variety, and the piles of garbage made sure we never forgot that we were still in India!

When we'd had enough of the smell and heat, a nice frigid beverage was always a welcome refresher. One huge drawback to Jewtown was that there were disgustingly few restaurants or bars around. When we eventually did come across places to have a cold one (and this was everywhere in Kochi), there was a great surreptitious feel to things. Because most places didn't have a liquor license, they would serve beer - complete with foamy head and everything - in a teapot and drunk out of a mug!! So while the kids got super orange Fanta tongues, we learned after the first day that a wink and a nod and a request for the special tea was all we needed to do to make us happy as well!

As we wandered through the town the pastels and shutters grabbed our eyes, as everything was designed to keep the blistering elements at bay.

Even the goats appreciate the value of a shadowy doorstep to take a midday siesta on...

While some people go about doing what they need to do to make ends meet. This guy has a roadside ironing stand set up: people bring him wrinkled clothes, he puts a few coals in the iron, runs it over the clothes, and the job is done!! But as the heat recedes and evening falls, most males have only one thing on their mind. Yes, cricket. A lot of guys congregate at the park right outside ole de Gama's church. I love the fact that some of these guys - the bowler and the batsman for sure and it even looks like the wicket keeper too - are playing barefoot!

On the day we wandered over to the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, where we ran into a wedding taking place. The inside was all decked out with flowers and streamers, and a full audience was on hand to watch the nuptials take place. 

We hung out for a little bit more, enjoying the children's park, and stopped by to see the nets again as the sun set. A great end to a great day in Fort Kochi. One evening we even got to see a cultural performance: let's go see an Indian Kathakali dance presentation!!

Fort Kochi - Kathakali dance - Backwaters - Alleppey - Ferry Ride - Varkala - Kovalam - Fishermen - Trivandrum

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